U.S. offers $45 mln in rewards for info on al-Qaeda leaders
The United States is putting President Barack Obama’s “we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are” threats last month into full sway.
The U.S. State Department released a statement Tuesday announcing bounties totaling up to $45 million for information about alleged key leaders in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch.
Up to $10 million would be rewarded to anyone with tips on the whereabouts of Nasir al-Wahishi, AQAP’s top leader, described by the statement as the person “responsible for approving AQAP targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources, and directing AQAP operatives to conduct attacks.”
The State Department also announced a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to the locations of Qasim al-Rimi, Othman al-Ghamdi, Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri, Shawki Ali Ahmed al-Badani, Jalal Bala’idi, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, and Ibrahim al-Banna – all whom were accused of recruiting, fundraising and plotting suicide attacks.
AQAP was reportedly formed in January 2009, according to the National Counterterrorism Center, under the leadership of the self-proclaimed “emir” Nasir al-Wahisi. Wahishi was made a deputy leader of Al-Qaeda in 2013 by Osama bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to the U.S. government program, Rewards for Justice.
AQAP is suspected of dispatching the 23-year-old Nigerian operative who attempted to detonate an explosive device concealed in his underwear aboard a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day in 2009.
The group was also accused of plotting a 2011 attack in Yemen which killed 42 people, including children, according to media reports.
The group’s operations prompted the United States to temporarily close more than 20 of its embassies in Yemen in 2013, said the statement.
But Zawahiri, one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists,” remains on the top of the U.S. Department’s list – with up to $25 million as a reward for his whereabouts.